3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
2 onions, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (about 1½ pounds; canned is fine)
½-1 cup freshly brewed espresso, 1-2 cups brewed coffee, or 2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches
1 pound dried black beans, washed, picked over, and soaked if you like
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato, espresso, chili powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and beans and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily but not violently. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are beginning to soften.
Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the beans are tender, anywhere from another 45 minutes to 1½ hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper.
Serves six to eight.
Mark Bittman, markbittman.com